Stupid Tuesday questions, shpilkes edition

First of all, I’m just going to put it out there that I am almost certainly going to be a wreck tonight until:

1)  They call Ohio, and

2)  They call the results of Question 1 in Maine.

For those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter, you might want to start just for the amusement of reading what are certain to be increasingly unhinged Tweets as I get progressively more sleep-deprived and (if it’s a real nail-biter) gin-addled.  Just sayin’.

Anyhow, yesterday I mentioned a particular kind of anxiety/OCD tic I have.  For some reason, after I cast votes I become deeply uneasy that I’ve accidentally voted the wrong way.  (I suppose I could comfort myself with Jason’s assertions that even if I did, it’s not like it mattered.)  I remedied this problem this year by asking a friend who happened to be handy when I voted early to check my ballot to make sure I didn’t get it wrong.  This worked well, but since she had to leave before I was finished I couldn’t ask her to check if I’d correctly voted “Yes on 1” and now I’m a wee bit nervous that I somehow voted “No” by accident.  Despite checking and rechecking literally five times (at least) before putting the ballot in the envelope.

The only other time I kind of lose my marbles is when I have to mail in professionally-sensitive documents.  Once I had to mail in a gigantic pile of paper to the board of licensure in Maine, and I had to ask the nice man at the post office to confirm that the envelope did, in fact, contain the gigantic pile of paper it was meant to contain.  Had I not done this, I guarantee I would have become concerned shortly after leaving said post office that I had possibly mailed it wrong.  (How I might have managed to mail it wrong would have been beside the point.)

So anyone out there want to join me in my nuttiness?  Anyone willing to share a little dollop of their crazy?  And weird quirks or twitches to your personality that only come out in very specific circumstances?  Or will I be clutching my martini glass alone in this one tonight?

Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.


  1. You should see how I sanitize hard drives.

    My “go” back for disaster prep has knee pads and (after I saw 9/11 responders lung problems) a professional grade respirator. The one that they recommend civilians don’t buy because you probably don’t have the right training to do anything that would require you have one.

    I get insane when I find a CD or DVD sitting around not in its case.

  2. I have to be careful what TV series I watch, because if I get hooked on it, I’m going to watch every last episode. I just finished all 30 episodes of Twin Peaks, and I’m currently in the middle of Fire Walk With Me (it’s not good.). Before that, all three complete seasons of The Guardian, and all seven of Homicide.

    Same thing with books. e.g all six Dune books, even though they got worse almost monotonically. Thank God my inner demon doesn’t condenser the non-Frank Herbert ones really part of the series.

    • I can drop a TV series, or a series of books, no problem.

      But I will almost always finish a book, once started. I can count on (not much more than) one hand the books I have ever started, then not finished; no matter how bad, or boring.

      It can be totally excruciating. I have no idea why I am compelled to keep reading something I hate.

  3. For me, it’s putting items on the conveyor at the grocery store. Everything has to go from the cart and onto the belt in order – meat, dairy, frozen, bottled, canned, boxed, veggies, fruits, breads, crushables/snacks, paper, chemical. Like items together (can’t have a pizza between bags of peas), nothing stacked – exactly the way I want them bagged.

    If my wife or daughter are with me and try putting things on the belt, I go nuts moving them back where they belong before the cashier can get them.

    • I have to admit; I do this too.

      Dairy items together;
      Chemicals together;
      Canned goods
      Frozen goods
      Other shit.

      They have to be bagged properly, too. Hubby has learned to just let me do it and we’ll all be happier.

      As far as the election goes, I’ll probably be up most of the night to see what results come in.

      • Kitty and I both have this one.

        When you get a bagger who ignores the obviousness, it’s something that you just want to scream about.

        • I worked in grocery stores for nearly a decade and bagged for the first couple of years. Also, our local store hires a lot of mentally disabled folks to bag groceries. While I admire the principle of giving them jobs, they don’t do the job quite up to my standards. So I always try to get the lane without a bagger and bag them myself.

      • Well, that is just the right way to do that.


  4. Weird eating habits or bad table manners. I go bonkers. Both of my daughters bite their forks and it’s a nightly war with them at dinner. My coworker talks with her mouth full and slurps her soup. My father-in-law chews with his mouth open.

    Arggh!!! I can literally feel my blood pressure going up right now just thinking about it.

    • my father in law chews so loudly at holiday dinners i can’t actually hear conversations on the other side of the table. it’s epic.

      • God help us when there is corn on the cob on the table. I’ve literally seen people stop eating just to watch.

    • I had a lot of asian co-workers when I worked at Foxwoods. Many of them would sit and talk to each other while eating – it was absolutely revolting.

      I couldn’t sit with them anymore, and one of them finally asked me why – and I told him simply, “I cannot stand to watch you talk while your mouth is full of food – it’s just nasty.” Apparently it’s not viewed the same in China (or at least the area where they were from) – so they didn’t know it wasn’t considered ‘good table manners’ in the US. They made an effort to not talk and chew at the same time from that point forward.

  5. I’m totally blanking on what it is (I blame Day 8 of Hurricane-Gate), but I know there is something I obsessively check before submitting, much as you described your process with your ballot.

    I am horribly specific about how my laundry is folded, to the point that friends of mine not only know this about me, but wouldn’t even joke about trying to fold my laundry. During our recent stay at her house, my friend and colleague offered to take some clothes to the wash-and-fold for me before pausing and saying, “Wait… no… that won’t work.” What is particularly crazy is that I don’t even fold it the “best” way for the clothes, but a way I learned growing up that meets a strange set of criteria I have for clothes storage. So not only will I scream, “NO! DON’T FOLD THAT!” but I have to follow it up with, “IT MUST BE FOLDED THE WRONG WAY!”

    This is probably the most extreme of my many very specific ways of doing things, many of which drive Zazzy crazy. Fortunately, she is the sole force in the world capable of bringing about change.

    • I’m pretty particular about my folding too. To make it worse, Mrs>Dwyer does most of our laundry and she is a lefty. She folds everything backwards.

    • There are right ways and wrong ways to fold things. Left to his own devices, my husband almost always chooses the wrong way. Thankfully, he’s pretty allergic to doing the laundry.

  6. Driver’s side windows that go all the way down automatically have replaced automatic windows that don’t go down at the right speed as the bane of my attempts to make both windows go down partway but an equal amount.

    God help you if you are driving in front of me when I encounter this scenario… you are almost assuredly getting rear-ended.

  7. I have to check the door to my apartment every night to make sure both locks (deadbolts) are locked. I have positioned my bed so that if I forget before I’m under the covers, I can just crawl to the end of the bed and look down the hall and see the locks in the right position.

    If I don’t actually have to get out of the bed, it doesn’t count as forgetting. Really. It’s a law or something. Look it up.

  8. First, I learned a new word: shpilkes Thank you, Doctor.

    There are correct and proper routes to drive from my house to my common destinations. Deviations from these routes are evil, as is driving below the speed limit on said routes.

  9. Do not talk in elevators. This is a bad thing to do. It violates a powerful taboo. People in the elevator wells can hear you. Elevator cars should be zones of silence.

  10. I am a great mass of compulsions and obsessions.

    Checking out code? I trot it through my own formatter. Turning in code? Where’s the test case for it? And don’t think you can get away with some rooty-poot feeble-ass assertions and think you’ll get it by me. Go off and grumble about it: I’ll only laugh at you. People who don’t write good test cases probably don’t wipe their own butts very well either.

    Along with Dr. Saunders, I have a horror of failing to put everything in the package. This became a problem for my current job, when I was onboarding: they wanted me to fax in everything. I don’t have a fax machine and haven’t since Ulysses Grant was president. So I had to go down to the cop shop in Augusta and fax everything. So one signature page went missing and nobody could find it at their end, though I’d sent it several times. Finally I told them to accept a PDF with embedded scans and they did. Shpilkes? I was on auto-plotz until I got all that done.

    Along with Kazzy and Mike, laundry is important. Ever since the military, I’ve had my own set routine of doing laundry. My girlfriend finds my ruthless efficiency amusing. Dishwashing also. Dress shirts are always hung on hangers while hot from the dryer, top button buttoned. Saves on ironing, you see. And, no, I’m not completely anal about housework or clutter. But when I’m manic, which is fairly often, I channel it into productive effort, such as a brutal sterilisation of the refrigerator.

    Plinko and Darwy, too, are on the right track. Groceries ought to be segregated into Darwy’s eminently sensible categories. As for special needs people bagging my groceries, nobody bags better than an autistic boy I once knew in a St. Louis grocery store. She was amazing.

    But Cahalan’s hard drives are a special case. Magic spell: dd if=/dev/urandom of=/dev/sdX bs=1M. Fill the drive with random data.

    • Turning in code? Where’s the test case for it? And don’t think you can get away with some rooty-poot feeble-ass assertions and think you’ll get it by me. Go off and grumble about it: I’ll only laugh at you. People who don’t write good test cases probably don’t wipe their own butts very well either.

      That doesn’t count as a silly obsession, because it has valuable real-world consequences.

      • Thank you. The old joke about how Microsoft does unit testing — they do another release and let the customers do it for them.

        • Better still, they put out an “early access” release and charge third-party developers to test it for them. (Yes, that was “charge”, not “pay” and I am NOT making this up.)

    • I don’t do coding but in the analyst world Excel rules. I am a complete nazi with spreadsheets, especially visual details. People will send them to me for a simple data add-on and I will spend 20 minutes reformatting them before I even start inputting. It’s not a habit that is always met with approval.

      • Excel is the bane of my existence. There is a good way to lock them down and have them feed real databases, but people just will try to use them to feed bigger systems. It’s more trouble building the validators than to simply lock down the spreadsheet and force it into ODBC mode.

  11. I should also add that I’m OCD when it comes to notes.

    My Hubby has learned that there will always be an odd assortment of pens (ball point, felt tip, gel, etc) at my desk and he is NOT allowed to touch ANY of them.

    My notes have to be in a particular order (via chapter, heading, etc) and they must be without grammatical error. If there’s an error, the page is ripped out and rewritten.

    If my penmanship gets sloppy – the notebook is rewritten. Certain types of paper (depending on its ‘feel’) require a certain type of pen. No substitutions.

    Once the notebook is the way I wish it to be, THEN I’ll enter it into a .pdf for safekeeping and storage. Or to let my daughter borrow it for her classes.

  12. Congratulations on the passage of Question 1, and on what I assume will be your forthcoming government-approved marriage.

    • Ditto! A big congratulations to you and your husband. Seeing the outcome on all four SSM initiatives (still crossing my fingers that the lead in Washington holds) made me really happy.

  13. Congrats on the big win, Doc! The Hanley family is thrilled for you and all others who fought so hard for equality in Maine and Maryland.

  14. Lotsa love from Minnesota Doc. You got the big cabana but we stopped our own horde of Huns.
    I’d been hoping that we could both rejoice and now the hopes come true, I’m over the moon.
    It’s cruel to say but I feel like we just turned the Ottomans back from the gates of Vienna. I’m hopeful it’s going to be rearguard action for Maggie and her motley crew from now on out.

  15. I have a thing about down escalators. When I have to get on one, it always takes a few moments to time it out. If there’s an opportunity to take stairs instead, I always do. My husband finds this quirk to be really amusing.

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